Animating UX/UI Design: Exploring 5 More Animation Principles in Figma

May 31, 2023Eugenia Sorgetti

In our previous article, "Animating UX/UI Design: Applying 5 Animation Principles in Figma", we explored the importance of microinteractions and how classic principles of animation could be leveraged to enhance UX/UI design. We delved into the practical application of Anticipation, Follow Through & Overlapping Action, Slow In & Slow Out, Arcs, and Secondary Action. We saw how these principles, when incorporated in Figma, could revolutionize our designs, bringing them to life and creating a more engaging user experience.

Today, we're continuing our journey into the fascinating intersection of animation and UX/UI design. In this second part of our series, we'll explore another set of animation principles—Staging, Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose, Exaggeration, Solid Drawing, and Timing—and how they can be utilized in Figma to further enhance the dynamism and interactivity of your designs.

Overview of Animation Principles

Before we dive into the practical application of these principles in Figma, let's briefly introduce each one.

Staging is all about directing the audience's attention and making sure that the essential points are clear. In animation, staging can be the positioning of characters, the setting, or the angle of a shot. In UX/UI design, staging involves presenting and arranging elements to ensure the user's focus is drawn where it's needed.

Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose refer to two different approaches to creating motion in animation. The former involves drawing frame by frame from start to finish, while the latter entails starting with key poses and then filling in the intermediate ones. In UX/UI design, these methods can be used to control the flow of animations and interactions.

Exaggeration is used in animation to accentuate the essence of an idea to make it more appealing or more easily understood. When applied in UX/UI design, exaggeration can emphasize important actions and guide user interactions.

Solid Drawing is the principle of ensuring that forms in animation feel like they exist in a three-dimensional space, even though they are drawn in two dimensions. In UX/UI design, it's about creating elements that feel grounded and have weight, which can enhance the user's experience and interaction with the design.

Finally, Timing refers to the speed at which an action happens in an animation. The right timing in UX/UI design can significantly influence how a user interprets an interaction, and can be a powerful tool for guiding user behavior.

Setting the Stage for Better UX/UI Design

Understanding Staging

In animation, Staging is about directing the audience's attention towards the most crucial parts of a scene. The goal is to ensure clarity and emphasis are given to the right elements, while reducing noise and distractions.

Staging in UX/UI Design

Similarly, Staging in UX/UI design is about presenting and arranging elements in a way that guides the user's focus towards the key parts of the interface. It involves organizing elements so that the main call-to-action is clear, and unnecessary items are minimized or eliminated.

Applying Staging in Figma

Figma's powerful design tools make staging straightforward. For instance, when designing a Figma prototype, you can use contrast, size, and positioning to stage an element or an action prominently. Consider a clickable prototype of an e-commerce app: the "Buy Now" button should be staged prominently, making it instantly recognizable and easy to access for users.

Animation principles: staging

Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose: A Balance for Design Flow

Understanding Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose

These are two distinct approaches to creating animation. Straight Ahead Action involves creating each frame in sequence from start to finish, resulting in spontaneous and dynamic motion. Pose to Pose, on the other hand, involves outlining the key frames first and then filling in the intervening frames, leading to more structured and controlled motion.

Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose in UX/UI Design

In UX/UI design, Straight Ahead Action can bring dynamism and spontaneity to interactions, while Pose to Pose can help control the flow and precision of animations.

Applying Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose in Figma

Figma's prototyping tools allow designers to apply both approaches in their designs. For instance, when creating a clickable prototype, Straight Ahead Action could be used to design a lively dropdown menu animation, while Pose to Pose could be used to design a precise progress bar animation.

Dropdown menu animation in Figma

Exaggeration: Amplifying User Experience

Understanding Exaggeration

In the realm of animation, exaggeration is utilized to accentuate the essence of an idea to make it more appealing or easily comprehensible. It's a tool animators use to enhance storytelling and make characters or situations more memorable.

Exaggeration in UX/UI Design

In UX/UI design, exaggeration can serve a similar purpose. It can amplify important actions or elements, guide user interactions, and create a more engaging user experience. Whether it's emphasizing a button hover effect or making a transition animation more pronounced, exaggeration can make the important aspects of a design unmissable.

Applying Exaggeration in Figma

Figma provides the flexibility to add such exaggerations to your designs. For example, the scale or color change of an element upon interaction can be exaggerated to draw user attention. These subtle yet powerful modifications can make the user experience in your Figma prototype more compelling and intuitive.

Hover effects in Figma

Solid Drawing: Achieving Realistic Designs

Understanding Solid Drawing

Solid Drawing is an animation principle that involves giving forms a sense of weight and three-dimensionality. Despite being rendered in two dimensions, these forms should appear to exist within a three-dimensional space.

Solid Drawing in UX/UI Design

In UX/UI design, Solid Drawing translates to designing elements that feel tangible and grounded. It's about giving interface elements a sense of weight and consistency that makes interactions feel realistic and satisfying.

Applying Solid Drawing in Figma

Using Figma's design tools, you can infuse Solid Drawing principles into your UX/UI designs. Through effective use of gradients, shadows, and perspective, you can create UI elements that seem to pop off the screen, adding depth to your design. These details can make the difference between a flat, unengaging interface and a vibrant, engaging Figma prototype.

Solid drawing principles in Figma

Timing: The Rhythm of Interactions

Understanding Timing

In animation, Timing refers to the speed and rhythm with which an action happens. It's a powerful tool for shaping character and conveying emotion, with faster or slower timings indicating different moods or intensities of actions.

Timing in UX/UI Design

In UX/UI design, Timing is crucial for establishing the feel of interactions. Well-timed animations can guide users, provide feedback, and create a smooth and enjoyable user experience.

Applying Timing in Figma

Figma allows designers to control the timing of transitions in their prototypes. You can adjust the duration and delay of transitions to create a variety of effects, from quick, snappy interactions to slower, more deliberate ones. Good Timing can significantly influence how a user interprets an interaction and can be a powerful tool for guiding user behavior.

Suggested Image: A GIF showing different transition timings in a Figma prototype.

Conclusion: Merging Animation and UX/UI Design Principles in Figma

Applying animation principles to UX/UI design can add life to your designs, making them more engaging and intuitive. By taking advantage of Figma's robust features, you can incorporate Staging, Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose, Exaggeration, Solid Drawing, and Timing into your design workflow, thereby enhancing your prototypes and creating memorable user experiences.

To further enhance your Figma skills and delve deeper into UX/UI design principles, check out the following articles:

Figma Prototype: What is it and why use it for design?

Top-Quality Guide On Figma Prototyping

7 High-Quality Tips to Leverage Figma

The Figma Complete Guide: Useful Tools, Prototyping and Good Practices

Eugenia Sorgetti

Eugenia Sorgetti

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